The next technology revolution is underway. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning coupled with more robust and competent devices is driving transformation across industries and workstreams, from small farms in India to huge corporations in the United States.
So what kinds of changes are underway and what does AI-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) offer businesses across industries? For a full discussion on this, I’d suggest attending the upcoming IoT in Action event in San Francisco on February 13 (more on that later). For this article, we’ll look to Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller, Steve Clayton, who touches on some key areas.
The rise of AI
AI has been around for decades. But as Steve summarizes in his interview, there have been three crucial breakthroughs that have pivotally propelled AI and the ability for computers to interact with their environments in a more human-like way.
First, is big data. A massive pile of data is being generated from devices like sensors, PCs, phones and the like that can inform AI. Second, cloud computing has come a long way—these days, there is infinite cloud-computing capability. And third, there have been substantial breakthroughs in AI and machine learning, including deep neural networks. Combined, they have set the stage for AI-enabled IoT.
Enabling devices on the edge
In addition to the three breakthroughs Steve references, a fourth is now bringing IoT to the edge. Up until recently, AI and machine learning happened in the cloud. It required device connectivity. But that is changing. AI computing is increasingly moving onto the IoT devices themselves, reducing dependence upon the cloud.
In his interview, Steve calls out a great example of how edge devices are transforming even industries not traditionally considered to be technologically advanced, such as farming. Farmers are always looking for ways to become more precise. They need data on soil temperature, density, and moisture—all vital information for making decisions around when to plant or rotate crops. But, how do you gather data across an environment where you have inadequate cloud connectivity?
The answer is AI-enabled edge devices. A Microsoft project called FarmBeats puts IoT technology in the hands of farmers, who use sensors out in the field to collect data. These sensors perform computing on their own and store the information for later use, removing reliance on the cloud and enabling more informed decisions.
Transforming job opportunities
Of course, while IoT is enabling business across every industry in countless unique scenarios, like every technology innovation it is also generating shifts in the job market. While historically, automation has led to displacement, it has also led to new career opportunities we had never dreamed of being created.
The same is true for AI-enabled IoT. Technology leaders like Microsoft are anticipating these shifts and partnering with governments and other institutions. By working together to plan for changes in the job market, employees can train to acquire the skills they need to transition into new roles, while employers get qualified employees who can drive the business forward.
The same concept applies to advancements in machine learning, AI, and IoT. New jobs are appearing today that we have never before considered, like roles that examine bias in AI. Furthermore, the industry promises to generate an entirely new set of career opportunities in the next three to five years that we have yet to define.
Attend IoT in Action – February 13 in San Francisco
As IoT continues to advance, we can expect to see increasingly affordable and accessible AI-enabled solutions across all industries and in every size of a business in countries all around the world. And now is the time to transform your business with IoT.
To get started, I’d highly recommend that you register for the next IoT in Action event on February 13 in San Francisco. Delivered by Microsoft and ReadWrite, this free one-day event will give you the insights you need to make AI-enabled IoT work for you. Find out how big the IoT opportunity is and how to make your mark in the industry.
Watch an IoT solution come to life as a team transforms an ordinary refrigerator into a scalable smart cooling service. Explore how to overcome key security gotchas. Plus, connect with partners who can help you take your IoT solution from concept to reality.
Watch the interview with Steve Clayton, Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller here: